Obama shrugs at hacks, marvels at Clinton’s ‘fairly routine’ email domination

Russian interference in the U.S. election was not a “big surprise” to President Obama, but he wondered how Hillary Clinton’s “fairly routine” emails became such a big story during the campaign.

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In his first television interview since Nov 8., the president discussed a wide range of topics with South African comedian, Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show” on Monday.

“None of this should be a big surprise,” Obama said of the alleged Russian hacking. “This was reported on before the election.”

The president claimed that “Russia trying to influence our elections dates back to the Soviet Union” and the hacked emails were “not a particularly fancy brand of espionage or propaganda.”

What he couldn’t seem to understand, however, was how Clinton’s emails became an “obsession” in the news during the election campaign.

“These emails got a lot more attention than any policy,” he said.

“What is it about our political ecosystem, what is it about the state of our democracy where the leaks of what were frankly not very interesting emails that didn’t have any explosive information in them, ended up being an obsession, and the fact that the Russians were doing this was not an obsession?” Obama asked.

He wondered how Clinton’s emails that contained “fairly routine stuff” were “depicted as somehow damning in all sorts of ways,” and became the source of “breathless coverage” by the media.

“Going forward, I worry that we won’t spend enough time on self-reflection on how our democracy’s working,” Obama told Noah, who took over hosting duties after Jon Stewart’s exit last year.

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Obama also remarked on President-elect Donald Trump’s comments that he did not need daily security briefings.

“I think the president-elect may say one thing and do another once he’s here,” Obama said. “It doesn’t matter how smart you are,” without intelligence briefings “you are flying blind.”

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Frieda Powers

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